MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Business leaders from across Pennsylvania gathered Friday at Penn State Harrisburg to talk about a new initiative to help revitalize the state’s innovation economy.
Grow PA started two years ago as a virtual discussion. Now meeting in person, local and state leaders hope to spark more innovation with the goal of creating new jobs, industries, and products.
Pennsylvania has long been a leader in innovation, but a recent report from the Brookings Institution says the state is falling behind.
“The state hasn’t had a real innovation strategy in over a decade,” said Robert Maxim, a research associate for the Brookings Institute.
Since the fall of 2017, business leaders have been trying to change that, generating ideas to grow Pennsylvania.
“It’s a discussion on what we can do to maybe change that trend because innovation helps to drive the economy, helps to drive new businesses, and we want to be competitive in the future,” said David Black, the president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC.
Maxim says part of the problem comes down to geography.
“The largest cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are doing well,” Maxim said. “They’re real stars on the national level, but there are issues with a lot of the smaller communities throughout the state and that’s leading to some real issues around regional inequality.”
Black says it’s important to bounce ideas around and come up with non-partisan solutions.
“Maybe it’s not the next Hershey bar that’s developed here, but maybe it’s something in biotech research or maybe it’s a new app or new robotics to help manufacturing,” Black said.
Maxim says developing new strategies on the ground level is key, but it needs to continue all the way to the top.
“Without that state support under-girding those smaller communities, the gaps between the biggest places and the smallest places are going to continue to grow,” Maxim said.
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